“We are not a company that is in competition with others, instead we are a community of researchers and good scientific research will only enhance our own scientific research and our understanding of the world through our scientific endeavours. Only by acknowledging the results of others searches for meaning, can we enhance our own search for meaning”
Yuimaru is Okinawan dialect for a warm-hearted and friendly cooperative effort. When large projects were undertaken, neighbours often got together and the many hands made the work light. Also this offers a chance for social interaction and friendships to blossom. This spirit of cooperation still continues to this day and this spirit makes Okinawan’s the longest living people in the world, with the oldest inhabitant being 115. It seems to me we need to adopt the Yuimaru ethic if we want our Web Accessibility / Web Human Factors domains to be as long lived as those Okinawan residents. I think there are three main problems in our domain;
- As I’ve said before we have a tendency to ‘eat our own young’, in that we are particularly confrontational and overly critical of others work within the domain – which makes it very difficult for creative new research methodologies and research pathways be undertaken. It also means there are difficulties with attracting grant funding because reviewers will, by nature, give harder reviews than those in other domains, and finally paper reviews often gain lower scores and more critical reviews than those found within other domains. I do not mean that we should be unscientific, just look at particle physics whereby a person is deemed good if the science is solid and then gets a high review rating. In human factors work it is my opinion that we often allow concepts such as importance, rhetoric, technical evangelism, or real-world practice to influence our reviews of foundational scientific work.
- Human factors and Web accessibility disciplines have evolved from other disciplines but are still using external research methods and techniques. We have a high number of researchers who come from different domains – ‘first-generation immigrants’ from other domains, if you will – or do not see Web accessibility or ergonomics as their first research area. In this case the researchers concept of appropriate methods tools and techniques is often very different from those which may be acceptable to primary Web human factors researchers who see Web Accessibility/Ergonomics as their only domain, or second generation researchers who have been trained with this domain and are not moving from a related subject area with all the cultural morays that this implies.
- Finally, I would say we have the ‘not invented here syndrome’. We feel threatened that research close to ours was not invented in our labs and this means we’re more antagonistic toward research which is within our domain but performed elsewhere. This is a really skewed way of thinking of our domain and community (if community in this case is an appropriate term) – we should see the work of others as enhancing the possibilities of our work, the possibilities of collaboration if our work is similar or very close, and the possibility of using that work – as is always intended in science – as a stepping stone to greater understanding and enhancements to our own work.
We are not a company that is in competition with others, instead we are a community of researchers and good scientific research will only enhance our own scientific research and our understanding of the world through our scientific endeavours. Only by acknowledging the results of others searches for meaning, can we enhance our own search for meaning.
We need to take a lesson from our Okinawan compatriots and create a warm hearted and friendly cooperative effort such that Web accessibility and Web ergonomics/Web human factors consolidates and grows old placing our work at the forefront of Web Science.